The Chicago Dancing Festival Opens to

Thunderous Applause

By: Shari Schmidt

By the middle of the first dance performance, the Chicago Human Rhythm Project had people cheering from their seats. It was a loud, joyous, magnificent talent display by dancers who looked like they were having a blast on stage. The performers laughed, responded to the audience and joked with each other during their set. Oh, did I mention they were tap dancing too? It wasn’t some relaxed, casual dance. It was a high energy, feet-moving-so-quickly-you-could-hardly-see-them dance. The energy was explosive, and so was the audience’s reaction.

And, Chicago Human Rhythm Project was only the first dance troupe to perform on the opening night of the Chicago Dancing Festival.

It’s what seasoned attendees have come to expect from the Chicago Dancing Festival. You come because your favorite dance troupe is performing and you find a new dance company to follow. It’s the joy of an evening with a diverse line-up of dance types and dancers.

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago followed the Chicago Human Rhythm Project with a layered performance that easily was the night’s best use of props with dancers held up on a moving cube by Velcro. Of course "Little Mortal Jump" is about more than Velcro. It's a piece I saw once before and it still continues to amaze.

The interplay between Brooklyn Mack of the Washington Ballet and Tamako Miyazki of the Columbia Classical Ballet and Dortmund Ballet was mesmerizing. It was hard to believe these to didn’t dance together regularly. Broolyn was a combination of grace and athleticism as he Tamako embodied Diana and Actaeon pas de deux. A friend described the performance by saying, "I thought Brooklyn Mack was the stem to the 'rose' Tamako Miyazki."

At intermission people were just buzzing about the performances. The Lars Lubovitch Dance Company opened the second half with Le Train Bleu performing live on stage. "Crisis Variations" received the 2012 Prix Benois de la Danse for Choreography at the Bloshoi Theater in Moscow. It's one example of the quality each dance company brings to the Chicago Dancing Festival.

Brian Brooks performed a piece that resonated to anyone who has ever worked in an office when the recurring lyric “I’m losing my edge” blared over and over again. When he walked across the stage in a navy suit you wondered how he was able to perform at all. At the beginning and the end he stood in the same spot with his arms flapping in time with the music. It was as if he was stuck and trying to escape. It was a moment most people in any job could understand. No matter how much you enjoy your work, there are just some moments that make you feel like you’re losing your edge. The Joffrey Ballet closed the show with a three movement piece called "Son of Chamber Symphony." It was a distinct contrast from the opening dance company, but it was a great bookend to a night filled with spectacular moments. The Joffrey Ballet dancers seemed to be having fun on the stage, dazzling the audience the entire time.

The full house received an evening showcasing everything from tap to modern to ballet dance styles. There are four more performances open to the public. Tickets are free and "sold out" but you can still sit in the audience. The stand-by line starts about an hour prior to show time. Any unfilled seats still available 15 minutes prior to the scheduled start time are opened up to the stand-by line. At Tuesday's performance the entire stand-by line was able to see the show. To see the entire schedule for Thursday and Friday evenings, as well as the Saturday performance at Millenium Park.